20120715 snapseed IMG 1707 crop

A free-floating (though short-lived) giant from this session.

This evening, I had (surprisingly) one of my best-ever sessions, and, fortunately, someone was on-hand to capture it on video. Initially, I was just going to compare the performance of three detergents with my basic guar-based mix: Dawn Pro (my standard), Dawn Pro/Dawn Direct Foam (a favorite combo of Brian Lawrence), and Dawn Ultra (because it is so widely available). When I stepped outside at 7:45 pm, the wind was pretty brisk.

I wasn't sure that I would be able to perform a reasonable test. I had three modular 32" top-string loops that I find useful for comparison testing. They are a full 4-ply rayon mop yarn top and a single ply of the deconstructed mop yarn for the bottom. I have stopped using a keeper to bind the top and bottom strings as I have found that it makes little or no difference.

This was a blind test. I had mixed up three batches of bubble juice. My wife poured each mix into a container which was labeled with a letter. And she wrote down the mapping of letter to bubble juice on a piece of paper that I never saw.

2012 07 15 guar giants

2012 07 15 guar giants

Watch in HD on YouTube! Some highlights of an epic session. This was solution C -- not the best of the night!

It was clear to all present that solution A performed better than solution B which was better than solution C. Each was tested with its own wand and loop to avoid cross-contamination. But, it should be said that all of the solutions were capable of making nice bubbles. Solution C performed noticeably less well than either A or B in terms of premature popping. But, if you hadn't used A or B, you probably would have been happy.

Suddenly, with the sun approaching the horizon and producing beautiful sunset light, the wind died down. I had on-hand a 72" full 4-ply rayon mop yarn to use as the top string and a144" 2-ply (white and blue) rayon mop yarn to use as the bottom. Again, a modular setup with no keeper.

Solution B was used by our 4 year-old neighbor Dilly, while I bubbled with solution A and the big loop. We created some gorgeous and giant bubbles -- often getting several giants from a single dip. The 2-plies of the bottom were clearly not a limiting factor for either tubes or spheres. Some of the giants popped almost immediately after closing, but a few lasted quite a long time and drifted up.

When solution A was just about used up -- i.e. not enough in the bucket to completely submerge the loop -- I poured solution C into the bucket. The C:A ratio was about 8:1. Some of the best bubbles of the evening were created with this mix!

The condidtions? About 70F and humidity right around 60%. (It started around 55% and went up over the course of the session).

What were the solutions? A used Dawn Pro. B used an 8.5:1 mix of Dawn Pro and Dawn Direct Foam. C used Dawn Ultra.

The recipe was:

  • 1000 grams tap water (1 liter)
  • 1.5 grams Bob's Red Mill Guar Gum
  • 4.33 grams table salt [see below]
  • 35 grams detergent
  • 2 grams baking powder (Rumford)

In order to be certain that variations between the solutions were not caused by variations in guar hydration, 4.5 grams of guar gum with 13 grams of table salt mixed in were mixed with 750 grams of just-boiled (about 190F) water. The mixture was divided into each of three containers. Those containers had 750 grams of water added (bit by bit to ensure proper mixing/hydration). 2 grams of Rumford baking powder were added to each container.

Table salt note. The reason for using the salt was NOT to improve any quality of the bubble juice. It was used to test an "easy mix" protocol that I am working on to create simple mixes without special tools. People had been reporting problems with clumping when they tried to mix up more than a couple of liters of bubble juice using the directions for the guar-based recipe that is currently posted. I had recently read a paper about guar gum in which it was noted that sodium chloride was a useful dispersant and that sodium chloride speeds up hydration time of guar. By mixing the salt and the guar powders, it is possible to start stirring the water vigorously by hand and fairly quickly add the guar/salt mix without worrying about clumping.

So, I have been exploring table salt as a dispersant to see if it makes clump-free guar mixing easier. It does. I did some side-by-side testing the other day of a mix with table salt and one without and did not notice any difference in performance. But, a friend of mine tested it and thinks that there may be some performance benefit with the table salt. Only time and more testing will tell. In any case, at least with my tap water, it doesn't hurt. However, it does seem to make separation of a guar layer likely IF you also mix it up as a concentrate. I made a concentrate with 500 ml water, 40 grams detergent, 1.5 grams guar, 1.5 grams table salt, and baking soda/citric acid (1.0 grams/0.5 grams respectively). Normally, with no salt, this creates a nice stable concentrate that might develop a denser cloud at the bottom but not a discrete disk. However, after 2 days, it seemed like the discrete disc was forming. So, salt might not be useful as a dispersant if making a concentrate. This also seems to indicate that the problem with a discrete disk developing may be an issue of sodium overload.

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